Call for Essays Examining the Nonfiction of Social Justice
November 14, 2016 § 5 Comments
A note from Karen Babine, editor of Assay: A Journal of Nonfiction Studies:
On Wednesday morning, we, like many of you, had no idea how to walk into our classrooms, what to say to our students. The results of the election were paralyzing to many of us. Many of us are still paralyzed. It was a Facebook post from a friend that got me there: “Educators, get out of bed. We have work to do.” My Wednesday composition class’s plan to talk about Aristotle’s Three Appeals seemed beyond ridiculous. So, like many of you, I scrapped my lesson plan, but I was in class with my students at my urban community college in the north suburbs of Minneapolis. I’m still struggling to find words—in class this week, I couldn’t even finish my sentences and my students just looked at me and nodded. They didn’t have words either. In that space, I relied on the words of others to fill that void.
Writers: we have work to do.
This week, the Assay staff decided that while we would still like to have a focus on Best American Essays in our spring issue (to continue our celebration of BAE’s 30th anniversary), we would like to fill our pages with the nonfiction of social justice. We’re looking for full scholarly articles, we’re looking for informal analysis, we’re looking for pedagogy of all sorts, the incredible variety of forms that Assay likes best. We’re looking for the voices we need now, more than ever. Who are the writers of color we need to read (and teach), now more than ever? The LGBTQ writers we need, now more than ever? The environmental writers, as we struggle against the future incarnations of the EPA? Who are the other voices about to be marginalized even further? What are the particular texts, the individual essays, the full-length books? What lesson plans have you developed? Perhaps an explication of a nonfiction assignment? What did you read with your students this week when you tossed out your original plan?
Assay’s spring issue comes out in March, a few weeks after AWP in Washington, DC, which is a few weeks after Inauguration Day. In the face of feeling helpless and powerless, putting our words into the world to support each other is our best way of moving forward.
Please share this call widely with your colleagues and students.
Writers: We have work to do.